We talk to Gary Jarman of The Cribs.
How was working with Alex Kapranos on the new album? Did he bring something that might have been missing from the previous two and how is the new album different to your previous efforts?
Working with Alex was a great time from the start. We already got on as friends, having done a long US tour together, and he would come to Wakefield to hang out or we would go to his house in a remote Scottish village and just talk about what we wanted to do with the sounds and all that. Messing about with all his instruments, I think we were sort of egging each other on really, which is good…pushes you in a positive way. He was very passionate about the record, which was very important to us. This was the first time we had recorded this way (one long block of time in a big studio), as we recorded the first album live in 5 days, and the second record we made in various sessions over about 6-7 months with Edwyn Collins.
How did the collaboration with Sonic Youth’s Lee Renaldo come about? The song itself is a real contrast to the rest of the material on the album. Is this perhaps a sign of a new direction for The Cribs?
Lee was someone that we had considered as a producer early on. We really liked what he did on Babes in Toyland’s ‘Fontanelle’, and we knew a few people that were associated with Sonic Youth who suggested him. By the time we met him we had already decided on Alex, but we asked him if he would be up for working on something and he said yes. I am proud of how the song came out and think that it fits in with the ‘theme’ of the record really well – we wouldn’t have put it on there otherwise. We had done some spoken word stuff before with Jon Slade from Huggy Bear (‘Advice from a Roving Artist’) on a b-side, and we were definately looking to do some more. I have ideas for others in the future!
You toured the states earlier in the year with Death Cab For Cutie. Their fans at times can be a little intense to say the least. How did your set go down with the audiences over there?
Those shows were great. I can honestly say it was one of the best times of my life…we were already friends with Death Cab from a few years ago, so touring for 6 weeks like that was so much fun. We had no idea what to expect, to be first on in arenas obviously felt weird to us, but the shows were great and went over really well. We did it in the back of a van, so we had LONG drives, and early soundchecks, so we barely got any proper sleep for the entire tour, but everyone pulled together and helped each other out. Both Death Cab and Franz Ferdinand went out of their way to help us out.
Where did the ideas and lyrics come from for “Men’s Needs”? Were you annoyed at the video being banned on MTV?
The lyrics were just written over a period of about 6 months. I guess that’s why some people seem to notice a thread running through the album, which was unintentional. It seems to me that if anyone writes about what they are thinking of, and does it in a space of 6 months there is going to be something constant that ties it together. I wasn’t that bothered about the video being banned to be honest. It’s frustrating though because we intentionally censored the video with those black boxes ourselves. We didn’t want anyone to see anything, that wasn’t the point. It was apparantly banned because of the ‘depiction of violence’, which is ridiculous. It was cartoon violence – no one could be disturbed by that. That was the annoying part, and also the fact that it gave it the stigma of being a ‘banned video’, when really it is more likely that it just stuck out like a sore thumb on the playlist, due to it being pretty lo-fi and gaudy.
You’ve had massive success in the States at the moment, you’ve been on Letterman and O’Brien and tales of your partying find their way into the gossip columns. Is this something that’s bothered you or does being famous and recognised have its perks?
The touring in America has been really good so far – it feels like things have built up in the way they did in England. Each time you go to a town you play a bigger venue and more people show up. I love it that way, there hasn’t been any massive campaigns in either country, it’s been happening a bit more organically, which is the most exciting thing to me that it can happen that way. Getting the TV shows was weird though I have to admit. We were sat backstage with all these actors/actresses we don’t recognise and their entourages thinking ‘how the hell did this happen?’ I didn’t realise it had made the gossip columns, so I didn’t really bother me. It certainly would though.
Which Wichita act would you most like to collaborate with?
One of the great things about this label is the community between the bands. We toured with Bloc Party a few times, then we took Giant Drag on tour. The guitarist from The Pattern did some artwork for our first record, and we have played shows from Bright Eyes to The Bronx. And bizarrely, it all seems to work. Musically, it might be a laugh to do something with The Bronx. I’m sure there are a few people on the label who would be interesting for our next spoken word project!
How does it feel to be part of Wichita’s 7th birthday celebrations? Have you bought them a card?
I haven’t! I’m terrible at these things. I did show up unannounced at the offices though, but I had just got in from Portland and was really jet-lagged, so not much fun. I remember them when they were 2 years old. Whippersnappers.
What’s your working relationship like with Wichita? Do they let you get on with your own thing or do they like to get involved?
The thing I love and respect about those guys the most is the amount of trust and faith they have in their bands. It is so liberating to not have a label breathing down your neck all the time you are trying to make an album. If they ever were to make any suggestions you know that it would be because they understand what you are trying to do and give you some perspective, rather than trying to mould it.
What records have you been enjoying this year? Any personal favourites you can recommend to our readers?
Everything Shrag has put out, and the new Modest Mouse album. Oh, and Wild Beasts.
How do you feel about the Myspace and downloading “revolution”? Is it something you’re looking to embrace or is it just an added annoyance you have to deal with?
I was always involved in making mixtapes, so it would be hypocritical to say i’m against it. The sad thing is that when you make a mixtape, you spend ages thinking of the segues between songs and dubbing them just right. I would like to make covers for them too. It was exciting to make and receive them, and will be a shame if that is lost (which it already seems to be). We try to make our records as good value as possible. Singles have 2 7 inches and a CD, each with new tracks as b-sides, just because that is what is exciting to us – buying a record that looks good and has new tracks. We don’t want the artwork to be lost…it’s part of it. Each to their own though. It’s good that it’s so easily accessible, but I want a record collection I can look at.